MABANK–A moving memorial service was held Sept. 27 at the Mabank Pavilion for fallen Mabank Firefighter Mathew Charles Ewaskiw, 43.
Over 300 were in attendance including first responders from Mabank, Gun Barrel, Kemp, Trinidad, Payne Springs and Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. Attendees honored Ewaskiw with a CareFlite fly over, 40 emergency vehicle procession from multiple departments and ceremonies including End of Watch and Amazing Grace played on bagpipes. Kemp Firefighter and Chaplain Donald Kile also spoke during the memorial.
Mat, as he was known to his family and friends, passed away Sept. 19 peacefully in his home and is remembered by many in the community for his selfless work with children. He was a huge and active part of the Mabank community, serving with the fire department and was also employed by the Kaufman County Fire Marshal as a Deputy Fire Marshal for two years.
In a moving Facebook tribute, Mabank Fire Department Assistant Chief Kyle McAfee stated, “The Higbee notch is a mark or cut in the couplings of a fire hose that helps firefighters rapidly connect two hoses together. It's an essential guide in the fire operations. Mat's clown name was Higbee and what a perfect name. Mat was a perfect guide in making things connect and making it work.” He loved teaching in area elementary schools as “Higbee” the clown, teaching fire safety and educating our next generation with the knowledge he had acquired in his many years of honorable service. McAfee credits Mat for the reason the clown program began in 2005.
Mat was also a member of the Life and Fire Safety Clown Association known as “LAFS.” He loved collecting various types of service patches over the years, military, fire and police.
When thinking back to his most memorable memory of Mat, Mabank Firefighter Fred Carter instantly remembered when Mat went on television live in Tyler. “They had their clown outfits on, nobody saw their face but that was his biggest kick. He enjoyed being out where people didn’t know where he was from and he just slipped in and fit right in. Entertained them, made them smile.” Carter continued saying, “Mat was a fun-loving guy, who was very precise in what he wanted to do and did it that way. He was a good guy, a kind you wouldn’t mind telling your secrets to.”
“Mat was a true public servant. Whether it be a police officer or a dedicated firefighter, he went at it full speed with each and everything,” said fellow Mabank Firefighter and Judge Johnny Adams.
In a heartfelt Facebook post McAfee said, “If it weren't for his bright ideas, fun, crazy sense of humor and just going along with whatever was thrown towards us, it wouldn't have been so successful. Running through all the memories and photos of the fun times in my life as a clown or fire service Mat was there,” McAfee continued, “You will always be my Higbee in life and couldn't thank you more for the fun ride over the past 20 years. I'm very grateful for all the times and miles we had together. You can rest easy my friend; we will take it from here.”
Mat was a firefighter, police officer, husband, father, son, brother, uncle and many called him their friend. Mat leaves behind a wife, Angie and son, Michael.